More Free Trade Agreements

From NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell
Republican senators have just announced that they will block the confirmation of a new Commerce Secretary – or any commerce related positions – until Democrats move on free trade agreements for Columbia and Panama.

Forty-four GOP senators signed on to a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday, vowing to hold up the nominations until “the President submits both agreements to Congress for approval and commits to signing implementing legislation into law.”

“The time for delay is over,” they write. “Colombia and Panama are strong democratic allies in Latin America and both have undertaken serious and meaningful reforms, many of which directly address the concerns of those who want to further delay these agreements. Yet the administration continues to move the goalpost by withholding clear direction and not providing a specific timetable for implementation.”

Steward’s Handbook

  The following are some of the tools I find effective for being a steward at UPS. 

    1.   Establish relationships with management.
        Much as you would like to berate, and punish your manager for their indiscretions, a quality business-like relationship will benefit you and your membership a great deal more than constantly being on the fight. While it doesn’t hurt to have an occasional go-round with them, a good relationship is key when it comes to the major cases. 
  2.   Listen carefully.
        Very often you will gain valuable information just by overhearing the conversations of others. (Yes they do it to You!) Casual comments in the office, or even in the guard shack can alert you to issues or information that may help you in cases you may be involved in. You can also pick up on the nuances of how one management person relates to another. This knowledge can be very valuable in trying to settle important cases. 
  3.   Build a sense of trust between yourself, your union membership, and management.
        It’s very simple. People won’t confide in you if they don’t trust you. You must respect the privacy of the individual be it a member you are representing, or a manager that is bringing you a problem. If you betray that trust, you may never get it back. 
 4.   Regardless of your relationships, let all parties know in no uncertain terms that you will represent the union, and your members with everything you have.
        To quote Teddy Roosevelt “speak softly, but carry a big stick”, or something like that. Everyone involved must understand that you are ready to fight. It’s the tool you must save for the right occasion, but it’s the tool you need to brandish on occasion.

        Remember also that a fight in front of the membership is worth ten times more than a fight behind closed doors.

Do We Need a General Strike?

It seems to me that just the very fact that the idea of a general strike is being discussed shows how far our political discourse has come and how deeply Scott Walker and prolonged economic anxiety have radicalized otherwise moderate masses.

Walker’s bill reaches far beyond just public sector unions and his stripping of public workers’ right to bargain affects the rights of everyone who works for a living. This attack on workers’ rights, if allowed to stand, won’t stop with the public sector or with Wisconsin. These anti-union bills are already spreading around the country from Indiana to Ohio to Nebraska to Michigan.

The IWW website is making a strong case for a general strike as the most effective tool to combat Walker’s bill and copycat legislation cropping up in numerous other states.

“A general strike against Walker would begin the process of rebuilding a strong labor movement in the United States. Since the US plays such an important role in the global economy and world political system, this could also invigorate workers’ struggles around the planet. To make it happen will require participation from many people across industries, across unions, and across the country.”

The South Central Federation of Labor, a federation of ninety-seven labor organizations representing 45,000 workers, has already endorsed the need to prepare for a general strike, and David Dayen reports at FDL that the mood of the protesters who stormed the Capitol on word of the bill’s passage, echoes that resolution. “You could see some kind of near-term labor walkout, at least in Madison and possibly throughout the state.”

Joe Conway, the charismatic president of the Madison firefighters’ union, said recently that the political situation has grown so dire in Wisconsin, he’d support a general strike. “We should start walking out tomorrow, the next day. See how long they can last,” he told reporters with The Uptake. “This is a nation-wide movement to attack all working men and women in Wisconsin and the United States.”

And Michael Moore has called on high school students and working people of all stripes to restart the American democracy movement and fight back in this latest round of “class war” against the middle class.

Find out more about what exactly a general strike is, when the tool has been victorious in numerous international struggles for change and rights, how it may apply to the current situation and how you can get involved.

Peter Rothberg, The Nation

A Teabagger Joke

A  billionaire, a tea bagger and a union guy are sitting at a table. 

On the table is a plate with a dozen cookies.

The billionaire grabs 11 of the cookies and starts enjoying them.

He then turns to the teabagger and says, “That damn union guy is going to eat your cookie!

The teabagger makes a sign saying “We Hate Greedy Unions.”